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City Writes Summer 2024: A Monumental Event

By Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

While half the country were on the edges of their seats watching football, us lucky few were treated to a night of storytelling, imagination and the excitement of hearing the inner world of consciousness burst out from the page.

 

City Writes is a termly event set up to showcase the best talent from City’s creative writing Short Courses. It’s a game of two halves (I couldn’t resist): readings from competition winners, students and alumni of City’s creative writing short courses who enter their best 1,000 words of fiction or creative non-fiction into the termly competition; and a visit from a published alumni or tutor and this term we managed to score the wonderful Lara Haworth, whose debut Monumenta came out with Canongate on the 4th July.

 

We began the night with the competition winners and Dee Miller, recent Novel Studio alumna, kicked things off with an extract from her Middle Grade novel, Between Wind and Water. We were enthralled as Geal, guardian of Spring, discovers all the people and animals of their local village are gone, leaving only footprints, paw marks and hoof prints behind. It was easy to imagine a young audience being gripped by this fantastical and energetic tale.

 

We heard from An Approach to Creative Writing alumna, Emily Edwards next as she read her multi-perspective story, ‘Laurie’. Who was this rather wild woman and what happened that night? A story that leaves the central character absent but all over the text, it was a thrilling and eerie listen. The audience were left wanting more in all the right ways.

 

Moving from one dark scenario to another, Flora Tonking read her story, ‘The Playing Field’ next. Another recent Novel Studio graduate, Flora’s story was inspired by events in her mystery novel, Chosen Family, and certainly proved her expert turn of phrase and her ability to leave bodies bleeding in the dark. A very haunting and moving story. Bring on the novel!

 

From fiction to creative non-fiction, we were treated to a wonderful portrait of Constance Markiewicz next as Fact-Based Storytelling alumna, Pamela Welsh, read her piece, ‘A Countess in Combat’. Constance’s life from riches to revolution was inspiring and a wonderful advertisement for Pamela’s book project on women in conflict. That’s a book I think we’ll all be eager to pick up.

 

Another Novel Studio alumna and City Writes veteran, Jill Craig read next. Her story, ‘Estrangement’, took us onto a boat ride with her main character, on her way to see her estranged mother with a new boyfriend, desperate to reach out to her sister, the one who remained her touchstone of safety. So full of emotional turmoil and laced with lyrical writing, the audience were putty in Jill’s hands.

 

Next, we heard from Margaret Rogerson, our final competition winner and another recent Novel Studio graduate. Margaret read an extract from her novel, I Was, Once. She transported us into those delicate teenage years, fourteen and eager to find excitement in life. Her character found herself on holiday in a campsite surrounded by an aunt preoccupied with ‘that stupid baby’ and a whole host of men hungry to watch her cartwheel. Let’s hope Margaret publishes soon so that we can read the rest of this story with such a compelling and funny voice at its heart.

 

After such a stellar set of competition winning readers, it was a good thing we had multi-talented artist, filmmaker and now writer, Lara Haworth as our guest speaker. A Novel Studio alumna who read an early extract from Monumenta at City Writes back in 2021, Lara is a phenomenal writer dear to our hearts. Her debut, Monumenta is a book that examines how we remember collectively and in private. The Guardian says it  ‘fizzes with ideas’ and Bookmunch say it ‘Deserves a place on awards shortlists’ and the City Writes audience couldn’t agree more. Over the next half an hour or so Lara introduced us to the book through her answers to my questions and some wonderful short readings from a small novel that really packs a punch.

Author and City alumna Lara Haworth

Set in Belgrade, the novel opens with Olga Pavić receiving a letter from the government. It tells her that her house is being requisitioned in order to turn it into a monument for a massacre. But which one? No one seems to know. It’s a novel that explores memory in all its present, personal and civic interpretations. It was such a delight to speak with Lara and you can hear her readings, our conversation and all of the competition winners by clicking on this link to the video of the night. It really was a monumental night. Buy your copy of Monumenta here.

 

Thank you, Lara, thank you competition winners, thank you audience members and Emily Pedder for supporting this event. It truly is a showcase for the talent coming from the short creative writing courses at City and what talent there is. Next term, City Writes returns with alumna Jo Cunningham as our guest. Jo’s debut, Death by Numbers comes out with Hachette this August. It’s a seaside comedy crime that will have us burning on our beach towels. Listen to the event HERE and watch this space for details of City Writes Autumn 2024.

Winners of 2024 City Writes Summer Event Announced

By Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

We’re delighted to announce the six winning authors of our City Writes Summer 2024 competition who are now due to join Novel Studio alumna and published author, Lara Haworth on the 10th July at 7pm over Zoom. Read on to find out more about these wonderful winners.

Jill Craig for her story ‘Estrangement’.

Originally from Northern Ireland, Jill now lives and works as a secondary school teacher in the North-West. Before that, she lived and worked in London, Paris and a tiny town in Greece. She has had stories published on LiterallyStoriesEgg + FrogFreckle Ltd. and this is her second reading at CityWrites. Fresh from the Novel Studio, she is currently working on a novel about how climate change affects a couple’s plans to have a family.

Emily Edwards, An Approach to Creative Writing alumna, for her story, ‘Laurie’.

Emily Edwards is from North Wales but now resides in London after spending seven years living in Paris. She currently works in finance but also has a background in voluntary work in Asia. She has been an avid reader from an early age, when she started many stories that all remained unfinished. She had to drop out of her course in 2015 due to emergency surgery but picked up her pen again this year. This is the first short story that she has ever completed.

Dee Miller for an extract from her novel, Between Wind and Water.

Dee Miller is a recent graduate of the Novel Studio. Originally from the enchanting Highlands of Scotland, she now calls Hertfordshire her home, where she works as a consultant. A keen storyteller and a reader of maps, Dee’s heart beats for children’s literature. Her imaginative world will win the hearts of young readers, and she is now engrossed in the creation of her second novel.

Margaret Rogerson, Novel Studio alumna, for her extract from her novel, I Was, Once.

Margaret is originally from Leeds and now lives with three time thieves in South East London. A feature film she co wrote and directed is currently playing on Amazon Prime (Soundproof – shameless plug) and she intends to turn her first book ‘I Was, Once’ into a screenplay. She is interested in fiction that is unafraid to tackle thorny subjects.

Flora Tonking, Novel Studio alumna, for her story, ‘The Playing Field’.

Originally from the U.K., Flora now lives in Paris, where she manages the English-language bookshop, Shakespeare and Company. A bookseller by trade, she is passionate about introducing readers to powerful stories that have the possibility to transport, delight and remind us of our shared human experience. Mystery and crime novels are her lifelong love, and she is currently working on her own first book (a mystery, of course) having just completed the Novel Studio.

Pamela Welsh, Fact-Based Storytelling alumna, for her non-fiction piece, ‘A Countess in Combat’.

Pamela Welsh is a recovering journalist who used to work for the Manchester Evening News. She now works in marketing and communications for a national education charity. Originally from Northern Ireland, Pamela’s now made Manchester her home, and was heavily involved in the response to the 2017 Manchester Arena terrorist attack. Pamela has long been fascinated by women’s history, and is working on a book project on women in conflict.

With a diverse range of stories from activists to accounts of accidental murder all the way through to the complexities of intimate family reconnections, the prize-winners alone promise a wonderful night on Wednesday 10th July. To top off their fantastic pieces, we will hear from debut novelist, Lara Haworth, barely a week after the publication of her novel, Monumenta, already bringing in fantastic reviews. The Observer called it ‘a deeply political work’ that ‘fizzes with ideas’. Sign up to hear from Lara and our competition winners here. We’ll see you there on Wednesday 10th July at 7pm on Zoom. We can’t wait!

Deadline for Novel Studio Applications Fast Approaching!

Calling all budding novelists…

  • Have you always wanted to write a novel?
  • Are you looking for support and guidance to help you develop your novel?
  • Would you like to understand more about the publishing industry and connect with literary agents?

City’s Novel Studio offers an intensive novel writing programme that supports 15 selected students to work on their novels for a year.

From researching your ideas and planning to writing, editing and understanding the publishing industry, the programme provides comprehensive guidance through the complexities of novel writing.

The course has been the starting point for many successful novelists. From bestselling crime writer Harriet Tyce, whose fourth novel, A Lesson in Cruelty, was published with Wildfire earlier this month—and who generously initiated and funded our Novel Studio scholarship for four years—to debut novelist Lara Haworth, whose first novel, Monumenta, will be published with Canongate this summer, the Novel Studio has become recognised as a place to develop and grow as a writer.

The course is taught by established writers and editors, and it includes opportunities to meet with literary agents and publishing professionals.

In addition, we offer a Literary Agent Competition for all successful applicants to the course, run in association with leading agent Lucy Luck at C&W Agency.

And for one talented writer from a low-income household, we have The Captain Tasos Politis Scholarship, providing full funding for the course.

Full details on all these opportunities and information on the course are available here.

Or you can apply directly with 2000 words of your fiction and a CV to Emily.Pedder.1@city.ac.uk

The deadline to apply is approaching quickly. If you’re ready to take your novel writing to the next level, consider applying to The Novel Studio.

Deadline 30th June 5pm.

We look forward to reading your applications!

City Writes Creative Writing Spring 2024 Showcase Event Opens for Submissions

City Writes guest and Novel Studio alumna, Lara Haworth.

This term’s City Writes showcase for all the wonderful writing coming from City’s short creative writing courses will feature the fantastically talented artist, debut author and Novel Studio alumna, Lara Haworth, on the 10th July at 7pm over Zoom.

Lara’s novel, Monumenta, will be published by Canongate on the 4th July, less than a week before City Writes. Set in Belgrade, Monumenta follows the fortunes of Olga Pavic and her family as her home is requisitioned for demolition. In place of the house, there will be a monument to a massacre, but with three possible horrors to commemorate, which will be memorialised and what secrets is Olga hiding from her children? You can pre-order your copy here.

To join Lara on the virtual stage, all you need to do is submit your best 1,000 words of creative fiction or non-fiction (we do accept young adult fiction but don’t currently accept children’s fiction) on any subject to rebekah.lattin-rawstrone.2@city.ac.uk with details of the City short course you are taking or have taken by midnight on Friday 14th June. Competition and submission guidelines can be found here.

We can’t wait to read your submissions and if you are keen to secure your place for the night, you can register for the event here. Good luck!

Nestle into Your Niche: Three Ways to Start Copywriting

By Maddy T Thomas

Are you a budding copywriter looking for tips on how to get started? Here are three simple steps to help you build a portfolio using your interests as inspiration. Whether you love golf, graphic design or doing good, these strategies will help you on your way to producing top-notch copy.

1: Find your vibe

Start by listing your hobbies, interests and passions. Then, add the things you know about what you’ve written by cataloguing any required equipment, or linked famous faces or historical or annual events. International Women’s Day, for example. Don’t think yet; just write.

When you sit back and look at your list you may well be surprised by the wealth of information you have cached and can use as a basis for further research and writing.

Perhaps you’ve noted multiple dance brands and could put together an informative article on the construction of the ballet pointe shoe. Or a great listicle of five essential warm-up exercises. Start with what lights you up. Enthusiasm married with sharp copy translates into an engaging read.

2: Find your tribe

Look at your list again. Is it heavy in one particular direction? That’s your niche. Seek out any related blogs, magazines, websites and social media sites and look at the stories they publish.

A search on ‘bodybuilding UK’, for example, brings up magazines, blogs, websites and federation information with articles relating to wellness, nutrition and competitions, all designed to educate and inspire the consumer.

As a new copywriter looking to build a portfolio of varied writing, it can be helpful to see what’s already published in your areas of interest. Note the types of copy you’re finding in your research.

Perhaps your area of interest is heavy with ‘how to’ articles and listicles, or has respected blogs sharing well researched copy that enthusiasts can use to enrich their knowledge. It’s a good idea to write your own examples along these lines.

As a novice writer, research can give direction to practice pieces and help you come up with ideas, as well as help build a wish list of editor contacts to reach out to when the time is right.

3: Find your voice

Writing from hands-on experience and a true passion for a subject is a great place to begin persuasive writing.

Perhaps you’re a member of a society, trade union or professional body that has a publication? Members’ magazines can be a good starting point when building a writing portfolio.

You may have an existing magazine subscription that could be a useful jumping-off point when researching and producing copy for your niche. Many accept print and or digital article submissions from their subscribers.

When you write about what you love, there will be someone who loves what you write.

Maddy T Thomas is literary fiction author and creative copywriter.

Maddy took our Introduction to Copywriting short course with Maggie Richards. As part of the course, students have the opportunity to pitch a blog idea for our site. If successful, the post will be edited and published on the site.

The next Copywriting course, which runs monthly, is in May. Maggie also runs our Writing for Business course.

For all our courses, visit our homepage HERE.

Author Maddy T Thomas

Here’s a Novel Idea

Apply to the Novel Studio and join our growing list of published alumni.

The Novel Studio is City’s flagship novel writing programme which supports 15 selected students to work on their novels for a year.

The course has been the starting point for many successful novelists. From bestselling crime writer Harriet Tyce, whose fourth novel, A Lesson in Cruelty, was published with Wildfire earlier this month—and who generously initiated and funded our Novel Studio scholarship for four years—to debut novelist Lara Haworth, whose first novel, Monumenta, will be published with Canongate this summer, the Novel Studio has become recognised as a place to develop and grow as a writer.

From researching your ideas, plotting and planning to writing, editing and familiarising yourself with the publishing industry, the programme will guide you through the tricky terrain of novel writing.

Taught by established writers and editors, with opportunities to meet literary agents and publishing professionals, if you’re ready to take your novel writing to the next level, this course is for you.

As if that wasn’t enough, we offer a Literary Agent Competition for all successful applicants to the course, run in association with leading agent Lucy Luck at C&W Agency.

And for one talented writer from a low-income household, we have a fully-funded scholarship – The Captain Tasos Politis Scholarship.

Full details on all these opportunities and information on the course are available here.

Or you can apply directly with 2000 words of your fiction and a CV to Emily.Pedder.1@city.ac.uk

Deadline 30th June 5pm.

We look forward to reading your applications!

Essential Writing Tips for Accountants

By Maria Sigacheva

Wizards’ of numbers and bookkeeping, accountants also spend time corresponding with clients and tax officials. Here are some tips on how to write well for non-accountants.

“Your reputation rides out with every letter you send,” states co-founder of the Plain English Commission, Martin Cutts. So how can you ensure that your readers understand your communications clearly and easily? Read on for three tips to improve your copy.

1)  Stick to a Simple Structure

An accountant’s letter to the tax office or to your client should be clear and well structured. Clarity can be improved by using a tried and tested three-part structure: an introduction, the main body copy, and a conclusion.

 

The introduction should summarise the purpose of the letter. Whether it’s about missing documents or querying financial statements, make it clear upfront.

The main body copy (two or three paragraphs) should detail your main points in a logical order. Avoid repeating the same information twice. Make sure you order events chronologically.

In your concluding paragraph, let the recipient know if you require a response and by which date. Add your contact details too, so that they can easily reach you for any queries.

2) Ramp up Readability

  • Use plain English, and remove any jargon, if possible.
  • Use active verbs, for example “we thought” instead of “after a careful thought.”
  • Avoid outdated words, like thereof, herein, hereof.

Being concise is a skill. Let’s look at an example of a recent letter about tax affairs. “Your current amount due according to the records held by the tax office is £10,000.” This could be rewritten for clarity as “The total due to the tax office is £10,000.”

In The Journal of Accountancy, business writing trainer Elizabeth Danziger writes: “Strive for an average sentence length of 10 to 18 words.” How? Remove all “as well as,” “but,” “that,” and “which” – and split overly-lengthy sentences. Get straight to the point and clients will praise you for saving them time!

 

3) Perfect your Punctuation

Grammarly is a useful proofreading tool. Just copy and paste your text and the software will instantly highlight any errors. It’s also a good idea to read your copy out loud to check punctuation and flow.

By adhering to these simple tips, you can start to improve your business writing – and relationships – today.

 

Maria Sigacheva is an Indirect Tax Manager at Glencore, and an Association of Chartered Certified Accountants ambassador for early careers.

Maria took our Introduction to Copywriting short course with Maggie Richards. As part of the course, students have the opportunity to pitch a blog idea for our site. If successful, the post will be edited and published on the site.

 

The next Copywriting course, which runs monthly, is in May. Maggie also runs our Writing for Business course which starts next week.

For all our courses, visit our homepage HERE.

Empowering Change: How Women are Shaping the Future of Business

 

In the evolving landscape of business and entrepreneurship, the role of women is not just significant, it’s transformative. In 1984, there were 646,000 self-employed women in the UK. Today, that number has more than doubled to 1.6 million; women are now running more than 40% of UK micro-businesses; while 42.6% of FTSE100 directorships are now occupied by women. Read on for how women are driving change, fostering diversity, and reshaping the entrepreneurial landscape.

  1. Leadership Redefined: From boardrooms to startups, women are challenging traditional leadership norms and championing inclusive leadership styles. By fostering diverse teams and empowering individuals from all backgrounds, women leaders are creating environments conducive to innovation and growth.
  2. Entrepreneurial Trailblazers: From technology and finance to healthcare and sustainability, female entrepreneurs are driving innovation and addressing pressing global challenges. By leveraging their creativity, tenacity, and vision, women are reshaping industries, disrupting industries and creating new pathways for success.
  3. Diversity and Inclusion: Diversity is not just a buzzword; it’s a cornerstone of sustainable business practices. Women bring diverse perspectives, experiences, and skills to the table, enriching decision-making processes and driving organisational performance. Companies that prioritise diversity and inclusion reap benefits, including increased employee engagement, enhanced creativity, and improved bottom-line results. Women-led initiatives focused on promoting diversity and inclusion are paving the way for more equitable and inclusive workplaces.
  4. Social Impact and Sustainability: Female leaders are at the forefront of driving positive social change and environmental sustainability. From launching impact-driven ventures to advocating for sustainable business practices, women entrepreneurs are integrating social and environmental considerations into their business models. By prioritising purpose over profit, women-led businesses are not only driving financial returns but also creating meaningful societal impact and contributing to a more sustainable future.
  5. Mentorship and Empowerment: Mentorship plays a crucial role in nurturing the next generation of female leaders and entrepreneurs. Women mentors serve as role models, providing guidance, support, and encouragement to aspiring professionals. By sharing their knowledge, experiences, and networks, female mentors empower others to overcome challenges, seize opportunities, and achieve their full potential. Mentorship initiatives aimed at bridging the gender gap and promoting women’s leadership are instrumental in fostering a more inclusive and equitable business landscape.

Women are not just shaping the future of business; they are redefining it. Through their leadership, entrepreneurship, advocacy, and mentorship, women are driving meaningful change, fostering diversity, and advancing innovation across a range of industries. The contributions of women in business serve as a reminder of the importance of continuing to champion gender equality, embrace diversity, and create environments where all individuals can thrive and succeed.

To find out more about how a short course could help you develop your skills, gain confidence, and even start your own business, visit our full range of short courses HERE.

Summer Term 2024 at City Short Courses

 

Thank you to all who attended our Short Courses Open Evening last week. We had a great time meeting new students and introducing them to what we do here at City Short Courses. Many students took advantage of our free  taster sessions, which ranged across our six subject strands:  Business and Management; Computing; Creative Writing; Creative Industries; Languages; and Law. There were tasters in everything from Learning Python to Italian, Business Writing to Major Event Management.

If you didn’t have a chance to join us, never fear! There’s still time to browse our full range of 120 courses and book on for the summer term. Why not try Presentation Skills, or brush up on your French in time for holidays. Or you could consider applying for our year-long Novel Studio programme and finish that novel you’ve always wanted to write! Whether it’s personal development or adding a new skill to your CV, we have something for everyone here at City Short Courses.

If you’d like further information before making your decision, just email our team at shortcourses@city.ac.uk. If they can’t answer your questions, they’ll contact the relevant tutors and make sure you get the answer you need.

Your short course journey starts HERE. We can’t wait to welcome you.

 

City Writes Spring 2024 – Celebrating City’s Creative Writing Short Courses

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